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Could Tim Wakefield have a tough time making the Red Sox?

Mar 19, 2011, 11:12 AM EDT


Tim Wakefield gave up six runs on seven hits — including four home runs in the span of six batters– over three innings in last night’s loss to the Rays.

Ugly, yes, but normally we’d say no big deal.┬áSometimes the knuckleball dances just right and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s nothing Red Sox fans haven’t seen in his 16 previous years with the club.

But the outing takes on added importance in light of Terry Francona’s comments earlier in the day. According to Evan Drellich of, Francona offered no assurances that the 44-year-old would make the Opening Day roster.

“We’re going to have some interesting decisions to make here come this last week,” the Red Sox manager said.

The main issue is that Alfredo Aceves has emerged as a reasonable alternative for the bullpen. The 29-year-old right-hander is back to full health and capable of starting or relieving. Meanwhile, Wakefield is coming off his worst season since 1993 and looked uncomfortable in a swingman role.

Of course, Wakefield has his advantages in this situation. He remains a fan favorite and is under contract for $2 million this season. And while Aceves has impressed this spring by posting a 3.48 ERA over 10 1/3 innings, he has options remaining and could open the season as a starter with Triple-A Pawtucket. In turn, two club sources told Sean McAdam of that Wakefield’s spot in the bullpen is safe. I have my doubts about whether he’ll last the whole season with the club, but logic says he’ll at least be there come Opening Day.

  1. writtenbyross - Mar 19, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    I would think with Wakefield, given his history with the franchise, would be given the opportunity to retire if he’s not going to make the team. I imagine they’ll let him know in private if they don’t see him making the roster and let him go out gracefully. Maybe not, but that’s what should happen in my opinion.

  2. bigharold - Mar 19, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    As a Yankee fan I don’t exactly have a favorite RS player but if I did Wakefield would be it. He a class act all the way. But, it looks like he’s reached the end of the line. With all the trouble the RS had with the BP last year I can’t see them taking Wakefield over Aceves. After last season’s non-playoff ending Wakefield picked the wrong year to be old and have a poor spring.

    If it is indeed the end, .. Hail and Farewell Tim!

  3. yankeesgameday - Mar 19, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    More so than any player in the last decade Wakefield symbolizes everything that the Sox have overcome and accomplished. Look, Ray Borque left the Bruins for the Avalanche, Wade Boggs left the Sox for… some other team… but those were choices these players made. Wakefield wants to be in Boston and I think he has earned the right to stick around on his own terms.

  4. Ari Collins - Mar 19, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    Which is better?

    A) Releasing Wakefield (or trading him for salary relief) in order to clear up a bullpen spot for Aceves.

    B) Sending Aceves to AAA and having a backup bullpen/6th starter available whenever you need it.

    Basically, they could have Wakefield and Aceves or just Aceves. This is pretty simple math, here. Even if Wakefield’s spring numbers mean something (and they probably don’t), worst comes to worst he’s a back-of-the-bullpen guy and emergency starter.

    It makes no sense to get rid of a 6th/7th starter just to clear a roster spot for a guy with options who’s no sure thing himself. I’m pretty sure the Sox know this as well.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 19, 2011 at 1:11 PM

      Trading him? why do redsuk fans say such silly things? hahahahahha

      • Ari Collins - Mar 19, 2011 at 1:26 PM

        Such silly things as saying “trading him for salary relief”? They could probably save a million or so. I didn’t say it was a good idea. In fact, I pretty explicitly said it was a bad idea.

        Or such silly things as “redsuk”? What are you, 11?

    • uyf1950 - Mar 19, 2011 at 5:00 PM

      Ari – As I seem to remember you don’t and don’t think they should or will trade Papelbon because he’s a “passable” relief guy. Now you think they should keep Wakefield so they can have the best of both worlds (my words) Wakefield and Aceves but send Aceves to the minors just in case. BTW I don’t think they should trade Wakefield, I think he should and will retire. Anyway getting back to your comments in the past about Papelbon and Wakefield currently. If your position on both players is adopted by the Red Sox they are going to have 2 players in their bullpen that are going to do no more then occupy space in 2011. Even for a team that the so called experts have called the “best team on paper” that’s not a good idea. Of course that’s just my opinion.

      • Ari Collins - Mar 19, 2011 at 5:34 PM

        If you’re a contender, and the money’s not an issue, then the only reason to get rid of a guy is because you could replace him with someone better. Who could the Sox reasonably get who is better? Papelbon is, at worst, the 4th best reliever on the team. Wakefield is, at worst, the 7th best starter and a reliever who can go long. There’s no reason whatsoever to get rid of either.

        Projections for Papelbon have him in the 3-3.5 ERA range, and projections for Wakefield have him racking up a 4.5-ish ERA between 10-15 starts and the ‘pen. Neither of those are “occupying space” numbers, and I’m very glad you’re not running the Red Sox. (Even besides the fact that you’d trade all the best players to your favorite team.)

      • uyf1950 - Mar 19, 2011 at 6:04 PM

        Ari, my friend I do admire you. I don’t think we are all that different. We refuse to see the glass as sometimes less than half full. And with that I will end this discussion (at least on my part). Enjoy.

  5. Jack Marshall - Mar 19, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    There is no indication that Wakefield isn’t as capable as ever. If knuckle-ballers don’t pitch enough, they are less effective. Wakefield was less effective last season because of the way he was used—I guarantee that if he had started all year, he would have had better stats than Beckett, and nobody is saying he is washed up.

    The Red Sox want to win, and on the current staff Wakefield doesn’t have a good spot. If he goes to a team in need of a solid 4th or 5th starter–like THE YANKEES—Wake could win 12-17 games, like he always has. I hope the Red Sox are prepared for that. If Wakefield got cut after all these years, he could well decide to show them that he can still pitch, in the most painful way possible.

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